Gay-Rights Group Fights to March 'Openly' in St. Pat's Parade

Bag pipers march in the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in heavy rain in Boston, Sunday, March 14, 2010. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)Michael Dwyer / AP

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A gay rights group in Massachusetts is fighting for approval to march "openly" in Boston's St. Patrick’s Day parade, the group said Monday.

"As we do every year, MassEquality applied to march openly in this year’s Parade. And as in prior years, that application was rejected,” said Kara Coredini, Executive Director of MassEquality in a statement.

On Saturday, parade organizers did say the group would be allowed to march in the parade, reversing a 20-year precedent, after Boston Mayor Martin Walsh intervened. However, organizers indicated that marchers from MassEquality would not be allowed to carry signs and banners that would identify them as gay.

"We don't ban gays, we just want to keep the parade an Irish parade," Tim Duross, the lead organizer of the parade told Reuters on Saturday.

Coredini said MassEquality met with Walsh and event organizers on Sunday night and expressed “that we would only march if LGBT people are able to march openly and honestly.” An agreement was not met, Coredini said, “but the conversation is ongoing.”

Meanwhile, a local parochial school is pulling its band from the parade in anticipation of an agreement to allow the gay rights group to participate.

“This parade is meant to honor [St. Patrick] and should not be used as political leverage for any special interest group,” said Dennis Maney, a parent of a student at The Immaculate Heart of Mary School.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio will become the first Mayor in decades to shun the St. Patrick’s Day parade on Fifth Avenue over a similar struggle. Di Blasio opposes a ban on gay pride signs at the parade, and instead marched in a gay-friendly “St. Pat's For All Parade” on Sunday.

— Elisha Fieldstadt